3 Simple Steps for Turning Your Home into a Peaceful Sanctuary For Your Family
by Kate Saffle
A year ago
Did you survive decluttering your kid’s room? If you missed that article, head back one to read the 5 toys I recommend decluttering from your kid’s room, and which ones to include. Simplifying your home doesn’t stop at your child’s door, but actually should include the entire house. Home is where our children feel safe and nurtured, and through the art of simplicity parenting, we can create a space that is a sanctuary from the world.
Children crave a space to feel heard and seen, to express their creative and imaginative whims, and to feel in step with the rhythm of family. It doesn’t matter if you have a big home with all of the bells and whistles that our media tells us are necessary for the “perfect home”; any space can become the perfect home for your family.
In 2018, my family and I spent a year traveling the United States in an RV not much bigger than many American’s master bedrooms. It was only twenty-five feet from end to end with a bed for each person, a tiny kitchen and bathroom, and a large dinette for gathering around. Each child could only bring one small bin of toys and beloved items to place at the end of their bed, and we brought about a dozen books with us on the road. We played endless games around the table, read books, and spent hours outdoors.
Living in a tiny space with so few material goods might seem counterintuitive to what is needed to meet a child’s emotional and developmental needs. However, the beautiful realization that resulted from this “experiment” is that our children actually thrived with less. Here’s why:
- Instead of the daily undertaking of cleaning and maintaining an enormous house, our little home on wheels gave us more time and freedom to spend as a family. Less to care for and maintain meant more quality time and peaceful daily rhythms.
- Instead of children fighting over a playroom’s worth of toys, each had a few beloved items; they began to spend more time outdoors and playing together
- Instead of feeling disconnected from our children, our physical space meant we always had a pulse on their feelings and needs, and the whole family became more attuned to one another.
I’m not suggesting that the solution for your family is to go live in an RV or anything else similarly drastic. But I do recommend simplifying your home environment to create a similar outcome for your family. I know you also want your children to thrive at home, to feel secure and peaceful, and to be more deeply connected as a family. The way we make our homes is the way we make our families, and being intentional will create a space in which everyone thrives.
If you’re craving a more restful and simple home, let’s get started with three super easy steps.
1) Clear horizontal surfaces
Have you ever looked around your home at all of the horizontal surfaces and the junk they collect? Whether it’s bills on your dresser, books on top of the TV stand, or dirty dishes on your kitchen counters, there is something about flat surfaces that attract clutter. As your eye moves around the room it can get “caught” on all of the things it must decipher, and children are especially impacted by interacting daily with an overwhelming amount of household goods. We need white space, not only on our family calendar but also in our homes.
Here’s how to do it: go room by room and quickly clear everything (and truly, I mean everything) off all of the flat surfaces in the room. Stack them in a separate space where you can quickly assess everything. Ask yourself:
- Which items need to be returned to a different place in the home?
- Which items do we no longer use or need?
- Which items create a sense of home for my family and which do not?
Use those three points to guide your decision on what to declutter and immediately move those items into a donation box. The key isn’t to drag out the decision making, but to be decisive, keeping your Why in mind. Once you’ve culled your collection of items that live on horizontal surfaces, intentionally put back only the items that add value to your family’s days. Keep as many flat surfaces empty as possible to create a sense of white space and calm in your home.
2) Cut your collections in half
Another method for simplifying your home Is to reduce the number of similar items in a collection. A great example of this is your kitchen. Consider the number of drinking cups hanging out in your cabinet (and if you’re anything like our family, you attract “free” cups from restaurants or are tempted to save and reuse jars.) Could you cut this collection in half and still have at least one drinking cup for each person in your family?
If you enjoy entertaining, the extras could be placed in a higher cabinet and out of sight. By keeping just enough dishes for daily use available, you’ll reduce the amount of dishes to be washed and time spent cleaning up. This simplifying method applies to any collection in your home, whether it’s framed photos, books, or clothing. The more often you apply the rule of 50% to the items in your home, the more quickly you’ll be able to simplify. The goal is not to get rid of things simply to meet an arbitrary decluttering benchmark, but to create space in your home for your family to breathe.
3) Prioritize people over things
Once you’ve completed the first two steps, let’s consider how you actually use your home. Often we think there are certain pieces of furniture or goods that need to be in our home for it to feel put together. The truth is that there are no rules on how to use your home; your living room can be remade into a dining room if you love entertaining, your guest room could be turned into a library, or your garage transformed into a creative art studio for your children. You could even downsize if your home is larger than you actually need. Our homes should reflect the needs of the family and not what the world thinks we should need or want in a house.
I recommend walking around your home with a clear mind and pen and paper, asking yourself:
- Is this room designed around the interactions of people or the interaction of people with things? How could I better arrange the furniture in the room to create connection?
- Does this room still function well under its original design? Can I reimagine this room for a different purpose that would be better suited to my family?
- How can I create cozy nooks and spaces for my family to rest, to create, and to think?
- What am I willing to declutter and let go of to make this happen?
Remember: you can make your home anything you want! It’s up to you and your family to decide what best supports and encourages your family’s values. A simplified home environment should contain only what your family needs to connect and thrive, so don’t be afraid to make up your own rules on what “home” should be.
Simplicity parenting is a holistic approach that combines the way we parent and guide the children in our home with a pared-down home environment and family schedule. I know how overwhelming it can seem to consider all of these changes, and I encourage you to frequently refer back to your Why statement. These intentional changes will slowly transform your family and home from busy, stressed, and disconnected to calm, peaceful, and deeply connected.